Wednesday 25 July 2018

The Development of Boveney Newtown

For the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century the theme for the growth of the village had been one of 'divide and increase'; but in the 1880s the village spilt over into the parish of Boveney. For fifty years the Shepherd's Hut had stood isolated from the main village, the only house of Eton Wick (not counting Bell Farm Cottages) across the boundary.

The story began with the financial difficulties of Arthur Bott, a cowkeeper who had the cottage he already lived in and the adjoining one. These were Hope Cottages, whose gardens at this date stretched as far as the Eton Wick Road. Within a year he had taken of the times and sold part of his garden and added a cottage to the two already standing. He then purchased a field called Little and Great Groves from Bell Farm and added three more to the others. However, he had now over-reached his resources and in 1880 his creditors foreclosed on his mortgages. Here this story of an incident important to few others besides Arthur Bott might have ended, but the sale of the land had far-reaching consequences. Its purchaser was a local man of astute business sense and within a few years the field had been divided and resold, plot by plot as building land. Even before the end of the decade, the bustling community of New Town had been created.

Its roads, Alma, Inkerman, Northfield and Moores Lane were planned, named and laid out as one scheme, though the houses and terrace blocks were named and built for many individuals. The actual builder of a high proportion of them was Henry Burfoot, a villager with considerable ambition. He built for himself a show-house in Alma Road. Its bright red bricks and hanging tiles contrasted sharply with the yellow and purple of the majority of the New Town houses. But on these there were new details such as bay windows and pleasing individual touches in the use of red bricks to make string courses and above the doors and windows, decorated tiles and coloured glass panels. Few of the houses had more than tiny front gardens and several opened their doors onto the street. Wash houses and outside privies were standard and water was obtained from pumps, often shared.

South of the Eton Wick Road another road was laid out about the same period, that of Victoria Road. The row of houses though properly called Castle View was soon to be known as Klondike for no better reason than that they were near a piece of waste ground on which scrap was allowed to accumulate and which proved to be a treasure trove of spare Fields and hedgerows separated these three parts of Eton Wick and would continue to do so for another half-century.

This is an extract from The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 to 1977 by Judith Hunter

Sunday 15 July 2018


Horace Charles Dobson (Private No. 32908) - 5th Battalion Duke Of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment - 2nd West Riding Brigade - West Riding Division.

Charlie, as he was generally known to family and friends, was born on March 18th 1889. Edward and Agnes, his parents, lived at Knaphill in Surrey and moved to Boveney Newtown when Charlie was 10 years old. The Eton Porny School records state he started school there on May 15th 1899, and that his previous school was Naphill, [sic] Woking.

Dobson was a familiar name in Eton Wick before 1899, but may not have been related to the Surrey family. The home address was at Garrod Place in Alma Road. Three months before his 14th birthday, Charlie left school and gave as his reason for leaving, "to work in a barber's shop". It is not known how long he stayed at this work, but later records state that his occupation was a coach painter. His mother died in 1901, two years after moving to Boveney Newtown, and two years before her son left school.

The 5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's, was a territorial force unit at Huddersfield when war was declared on August 4th 1914. It has not been established whether Charlie was himself a territorial soldier. The 4th and 5th Battalions were at first engaged on coastal defence duties near Hull and Grimsby until, on November 5th 1914, they moved into billets at Doncaster. On April 14th 1915 they landed in Boulogne and four weeks later became part of the 147th Brigade, 49th Division.

The great Somme offensive started on July 1st 1916 with the 5th Battalion positioned in the front line near Thiepval Wood. Parties of men were ordered to support the 36th (Ulster) Division at the Schwaben Redoubt. On the following day a withdrawal was made to Aveluy Wood. On July 3rd and subsequent days they were moved to Martinsart, to Hedauville and to Martinsart Wood. From Authuille they again took over front line trenches on the 8th July, and on the 16th they moved back to support lines before a further spell in the front line at the Leipzig Salient. The Somme offensive raged on throughout August and into September, with similar Battalion movements and always with appalling casualties. In fact on September 20th they were again at Martinsart Wood and a few days later still fighting between Foncquevillers and Gommecourt, where they relieved the 5th Scottish Rifles.

During an engagement in September 1916 they fought on, having lost all the officers and N.C.Os and suffered 350 casualties of the 450 who attacked the German lines. The following year the Battalion became attached to XV Corps, Fourth Army, engaged in operations close to the Flanders coast, during the series of battles known as Third Ypres. In October they fought along with the Anzac Corps at Poelcapelle. In the following February (1918) the 5th Duke of Wellington's became part of the 186 Brigade and fought at Bapaume and at Arras during the spring German offensive.

By this time Charlie's active war role was probably over on account of an illness which

proved to be terminal. He died on July 15th 1918, in the East Leeds War Hospital, from a cerebral tumour and his body was conveyed to Eton Wick to be buried in his mother's grave. He left a widow, Alice, whose address was given on the death certificate as 63, Princeville Street, Bradford.

As Charlie is named on the Eton Wick War Memorial, it would appear the address given by Alice was perhaps a temporary one used by her during her husband's illness, enabling her to be near him. Because Charlie was buried in his mother's grave he has no official C.W.G.C. headstone, but is of course recorded in their roll of the dead. The grave is situated near the north east corner of the Eton Wick Church and has a simple kerbstone surround. The kerb inscription reads:

In Loving Memory Of Agnes Dobson Who Died May 7th 1901 Aged 42 Years. Also of Charlie Who Died 15th July 1918 Aged 29 Years.

On the opposite kerb edge is inscribed:

Also Edward Dobson Who Died 22nd November 1944 Aged 83 Years. Charlie Dobson is commemorated on the village memorial and on the Eton Church Memorial Gates.

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

The Eton Wick War Memorial page on Buckinghamshire Remembers website.

Note Charles Dobson was working and living in Bradford with his wife Alice at the time he joined the Army. As he was was not living in the village at the time he joined up his burial in his mother's grave in Eton Wick is likely to be the reason why his name appears on the Village War Memorial.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Eton Wick Newsletter: Our Village April 2010

The Making of Eton Wick -  Edward Littleton Vaughan

Among Eton Wick's numerous benefactors were two, both now long since departed, whose work and generosity was exclusively for the community. One was Edward Littleton Vaughan whose unstinting interest and help had such a wide scope, covering the School, Church, Youth, Sports and social activities.

(pictured here in his mid 70s)
It is just 70 years since Mr Vaughan, usually referred to as 'Toddy'; died aged 89 years. Very few today can claim to have known him and those of us who can will only remember him as an elderly, well dressed man, short, stocky and serious, having much difficulty walking around.

Being young ourselves we found it difficult to accept Edward Littleton Vaughan had once himself been young and certainly did not appreciate all he had meant to Eton Wick in the previous five decades.

Annually we saw him at the Eton Wick Horticultural Show (surely 'The Day of the Fair' in those pre WW2 years) whereas President he gave a speech and presented many prizes. We saw him at St. John the Baptist Church where he always read the lessons and even explained the odd passages; we saw him at the Boys' Club where he occasionally 'dropped in' to play one of us at skittles, shove 'a-penny, draughts or Lexicon. Also we met him following Confirmation, when he gave first time communicants a signed copy of the New Testament or Prayer Book. This was not necessarily understanding him, though we did appreciate the respect accorded him, but not all he had meant to Eton Wick.

Let us look at his earlier years. He was born in 1851, educated at Eton College 1865 — 1870 then at Balliol College, Oxford until 1874 and at Leipzig University until 1876. Apart from a short break he returned to Eton College as a Master for the next 43 years. In 1884, when 33 years old, he became a 'College' housemaster; a position he held for 29 years. He retired in 1919 when 68 years old and two years later he married Dorothea. He returned from his honeymoon in France bringing small novelty gifts for each of the girls at Eton Wick School, an unusual pursuit when on honeymoon but typical of his generosity. I have read that at one time he knew all the children by name.

After the Great War he retired from College to spend his married life at 'Willowbrook' in Eton; a home he had built for himself and Dorothea.

At this time he undertook the daunting job of recording the sacrifice of Etonian's in the recent conflict. Of the 5,610 who served in the forces 1,124 were killed and 1,068 were wounded. They had been awarded 13 Victoria Crosses, 554 Military Crosses, 407 Distinguished Service Orders and many other gallantry medals. Medici were commissioned to suitably bind this work for posterity. Of other personal achievements, in 1879 as a 28 year old he climbed the Matterhorn and I was once told his lameness was due to a horse riding accident while going over private jumps in Boveney. He had two houses in the village, Boveney Cottage and Wheatbutts Cottage. He never did live in Wheatbutts but most of his village influence emanated from that house and its orchard, now a housing estate. He first leased the property from the Eton Poor Estate and in 1919 purchased it.

Eton Wick's first school was built in 1840 along the main road at the top of what later became The Walk. In 1888 the building had been outgrown so the school moved to its present site in Sheepcote. It is believed Mr Vaughan had already established a Young Men's and Working Men's Club and it was now able to function more expansively in the original and empty old school building. So much was happening in the village about this time and probably not all was attributed to 'Toddy' but so much was. The village football club was formed in 1889 and he became its President. The cricket club was formed and he was a Vice President. When the football team won a competition he treated them to a meal at 'The Three Horseshoes' public house.

In 1894 Eton Wick had its own Council (until 1934) and 'Toddy' was Chairman for the first 20 years, with most Council meetings being held at his Wheatbutts Cottage. In 1897 he planted an oak tree on the common, close to Wheatbutts, in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. For its first 40 years the young oak was protected from grazing cattle by a high iron guard. 'Toddy' also kept a close watch on the tree, which as lads we could testify to. Every November we built a bonfire near the tree and he would ask us not to burn it by being careless. In recent years that grand mature oak was judged as one of the three best trees in the Royal Borough.

In 1903 the old school building was sold for shop development so he made Wheatbutts Cottage available for the Young Men's Club and various other organisations, including The Village Rifle Club and later a Harriers Club. His orchard beside being used annually for the Horticultural Show was now made available for Children's parties with entertainment, bun and orange etc., He then gave the land and cash to build the Eton Wick and Boveney Institute and Vaughan Club. This was opened in 1907 and with extensions over the years we now know it as the Eton Wick Village Hall. He equipped the upstairs room with climbing ropes and vaulting horses for a gym group. In fact the ropes are still there but have been tucked above false ceiling tiles.

His influence bought about the early library; The Women's Institute and a Boy's Club in 1935. He had a major role in the formation of the Eton Wick and Boveney Scouts, Wolf Cubs and Guides in the 1920s and the building of their hutted HQ in Wheatbutts orchard around 1926. On occasions he took Cubs and Guides to their annual camp and reportedly paid for the very poor. In 1905 a public meeting was held in the new school to obtain unanimous approval to free the proposed Institute site of laminas restrictions.

There was so much more to Mr Vaughan. During the Great War he proposed purchasing a boar to service the many privately owned pigs in the village, thereby producing a scarce meat supplement. And so it went on. He died at 89, as did Dorothea 13 years later. She too was a strong, determined lady, carrying on 'Toddy's' village interests and being President of The Women's Institute and the newly formed post WW2 mixed youth club. Following 'Toddy's' death the College Vice Provost wrote "Edward Vaughan had two loyalties, one to Eton College and the other to Eton Wick and both have every reason to revere his memory".

This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village as is republished with the kind permission of the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. Click here to go to the Collection page.

Monday 2 July 2018


Isaac Springford (Gunner No. 197731) - Royal Garrison Artillery (Formerly The 2nd Battalion, Life Guards)

Isaac was born in February 1897 and was one of a large Eton Wick family. He attended the
village infants school until 1904, when at the age of seven he went to Eton Porny. The school register records his home address as 4, Hope Cottages, Common Road but some years later the family home was at 3, Victoria Place, Common Road a move along the road of about 100 yards. On February 28th 1910, in mid-term, Isaac was just 14 years old and he left school. The reason recorded in the register was "to help father". It was not recorded what father did apparently took up employment at Eton College, in the service of Mr Headlam and was later working in the Officers' Mess at Windsor's Combermere Barracks. 

He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion Life Guards, and it is possible that he was a soldier at the time of his barrack employment. There were six Springford brothers serving in the forces by 1918, although only two of these are recorded in the Parish Magazine in 1915 as serving at the end of the first year of war. These were Albert and Harry who both survived the war, although Albert was wounded in 1916. We do not know the date Isaac joined the Life Guards or the date he transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery. 

The 2nd Battalion Life Guards served on the Western Front as part of the 3rd Cavalry Division from October 1914 until March 1918 when they left to become No. 2, Battalion Machine Gun Regiment. Perhaps this change of role precipitated Isaac's transfer. 

The 520th (Siege) Battery R.G.A. was formed with members of the Household Cavalry and served in France in 1918 using six-inch guns and it is reasonable to presume that this battery included Gunner Springford of the Household Cavalry. He was the only known village man to die of gassing in either of the two world wars. 

We first read from The Windsor & Eton Express of July 13th 1918: 

We regret to record the death of Gunner Isaac Springford of 3, Victoria Place, Eton Wick, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, Son of Mr Springford of Eton Wick. The deceased was formerly in the service of Mr Headlam of Eton College, and was subsequently employed in the Officers' Mess at Combermere Barracks. He joined the 2nd Life Guards, and was afterward transferred to the R.G.A. While in France he was badly gassed and died at the Canadian General Ontario Hospital, Orpington; Kent on July 2nd (1918). He was 21 years old. This is the second son of Mr Springford, lost in the war, and Ihur others are still serving. The deceased was buried with full military honours at Eton Wick, the body having been conveyed home. The band and two troops of Life Guards attended, and a large number of the village was present to show their sympathy and respect for the deceased, who was much esteemed. The vicar, Reverend Evans assisted by the curate of Eton Wick officiated. 

The Great War had claimed the lives of two Springford brothers, but it spared the other four. William George Springford was one brother who returned safely after service with the Royal Flying Corps. By W.W.II he was living in Eton and himself had four sons and a daughter serve in that war. 

Isaac has a standard Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone in the Eton Wick Church Yard. He was unmarried and 21 years old. His name is also on the tablets at the Eton Church Gates and on the Eton Wick Memorial. Springford is still a well known Eton Wick name.

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Isaac Springford: The For King & Country page.

The Eton Wick War Memorial page on Buckinghamshire Remembers website.

Grave register courtesy CWGC

Headstone records courtesy CWGC


The 1911 Census records Isaac's father, William Isaac working as a Fly Driver. Isaac is recorded as being an Errand Boy.

Isaac Springford signed his Attestment document on December 2nd 1915 at the Cavalry Barracks in Windsor and his age is given as 19 years and 18 days. This would indicate his date of birth as November 14th 1896. His Army service records are held in the National Archive and they show that he transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery on December 20th 1917. After more than two years of home service, he was transferred to France at the beginning of April 1918, he was a Gunner in the 521st Siege Battery. On June 24th 1918 the Battery suffered several casualties due to gas. 

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